Winner of three Academy Awards including Best Actor for Gregory Peck, included in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 1995, and ranked by The American Film Institute as one of the 100 Greatest Films Of All Time, with Atticus Finch the Greatest Movie Hero the screen has ever seen, “To Kill A Mockingbird” is more than just an American cinema classic. But it all started with Harper Lee‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, published to great acclaim in 1960, becoming a standard in schools and homes across the country and around the world. And in the decades since, ‘Mockingbird’ has remained unshakeable in its status as part of the American canon, all while the myth around the author grew as she became reclusive, refused to grant interviews or speak to the press, and never published another book again. Until now.
Truly surprising has news arrived today from Harper Publishing, announcing that on July 14th, Lee will unveil her first new book in five decades, “Go Set A Watchman.” The book was actually written before ‘Mockingbird,’ and only recently discovered attached to a ‘Mockingbird’ typescript by Lee’s lawyer Tonja Carter. The 304-page book is a sequel of sorts focusing on Scout as an adult woman, with the story once again set in Maycomb, Alabama, this time during the 1950s. Here’s the synopsis:
Scout has returned to Maycomb from New York to visit her father, Atticus. She is forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand her father’s attitude toward society, and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood.
Ordinarily, I’d be wary about a followup to one of the most treasured books I’ve ever read, but as the author herself explains in a statement, ‘Watchman’ actually served as inspiration for ‘Mockingbird,’ and will be published as she wrote it in the ’50s, with no revisions.
“In the mid-1950s, I completed a novel called `Go Set a Watchman,'” Lee said (via Associated Press). “It features the character known as Scout as an adult woman, and I thought it a pretty decent effort. My editor, who was taken by the flashbacks to Scout’s childhood, persuaded me to write a novel (what became `To Kill a Mockingbird’) from the point of view of the young Scout.”
This is pretty exciting stuff, but of course the question is: how long until the movie rights are snatched up? I can only guess a film version will be inevitable, and that prospect is troubling, if only because the bar is set so high with “To Kill A Mockingbird.” But it’s probably best to reconcile with the fact that someone is going to do it. Who will play grown Scout or elderly Atticus? Start dream casting now. All I know is, I want to find out more about what happened with Boo Radley.
Watch the trailer for the original film below.